December 29, 2006
SURPRISE!!! The UN puts political posturing ahead of international security concerns...
December 27, 2006; Page A8
Among the least surprising news coming out of the holiday weekend is that Iran denounced even the U.N. Security Council's tepid sanctions resolution against its nuclear weapons program. More surprising - and encouraging - is that the U.S. State Department also seems unenthusiastic.
"From Sunday morning we will begin activities at Natanz," said Ali Larjani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator about the site of its 3,000 centrifuge machines for enriching uranium. "And we will drive it with full speed. It will be our immediate response to the resolution."
And why should Iran react with any greater concern, since the language of the U.N. resolution was at most a wrist slap at Tehran for years of violating its promises under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty? Four months after Iran rejected the U.N.'s August 31 deadline for ending its nuclear enrichment plans, the most the Security Council could unite behind was a narrow freeze on the assets of 10 companies and 12 individuals related to the program.
The resolution's order that countries stop supplying material for Iran's nuclear effort carves out a huge loophole for Bushehr, the Russian-supplied light-water reactor. Even a proposed international travel ban on Iranian officials was dropped in the end at Russian insistence. As John McEnroe might describe this resolution: "You cannot be serious!"
The charade was even more than the State Department could bear to endorse wholeheartedly. Nicholas Burns, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's right-hand man, praised the resolution for isolating Iran but added that "We don't think this resolution is enough in itself." And he suggested that the U.S. would now work to form coalitions outside of the U.N. to add pressure on Tehran. It's about time.
The aftermath of the resolution coincided with reports that coalition troops had captured Iranians helping insurgents in Iraq. This ought to underscore to Americans just how much Iran's leaders are trying to damage U.S. interests in the Middle East. These are the same Iranians with whom Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton and most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment want to negotiate; perhaps if the U.S. allows them to become a nuclear power, Iranian leaders will then agree to help kill fewer GIs.
As his Presidency grows shorter, Mr. Bush is going to have to decide how much longer he can afford to let diplomacy dominate his Iran strategy. The mullahs in Tehran have made clear their determination to build a nuclear weapon; the West has yet to show any comparable determination to stop them.
Copyright 2006 - The Wall Street Journal
Wearing a shirt bearing Che's image is morally equivalent to wearing one with Hitler's...
Che, Cuba, and Christmas
By: MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
December 22, 2006; Page A13
Until yesterday Christmas shoppers at Target department stores could purchase a 24-CD carrying case decorated with the image of Che Guevara. When I heard about it, I wondered why the retailer would want to promote the memory of a mass murderer. What's next, I asked, when I spoke with a representative of the company on Wednesday, Pol Pot pajamas?
Late Wednesday evening Target sent me this statement: "It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry. We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests."
The fact that it took only a day for Target to make that admirable decision suggests that at least someone at the company knows who Guevara was and what Cuba is today thanks in part to him. The misstep, though, probably occurred because others at the company allowed Target to become a target itself of the Che myth.
Guevara is not just a dead white guy from a well-to-do family who terrorized a racially mixed nation and executed hundreds of innocents in the late 1950s and 1960s. He is also a symbol of the totalitarian regime that persists in Cuba, which still practices his ideology of intolerance, hatred and repression. It is not the torture and killing alone that make the tragedy. That only describes the methodology. Guevara's wider goal - to forcibly strip a population of its soul and spirit - is what is truly frightening and deplorable. Christians, who celebrate the birth of their Savior on Monday, have particularly suffered under Guevara's dream of revolution, which has lasted since 1959.
The fear under which Cubans have lived for 48 years was fathered by the merciless Che Guevara. The unhappy Argentine Marxist met Fidel Castro in Mexico in 1955 and later became a rebel commander. "The Black Book of Communism," published in 1999 by Harvard University Press, notes that early in his career Guevara earned a "reputation for ruthlessness; a child in his guerrilla unit who had stolen a little food was immediately shot without trial." In his will, the book says, "this graduate of the school of terror praised the 'extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless and cold killing machines.'"
Peruvian-born Alvaro Vargas Llosa penned his own book this year titled "The Che Guevara Myth." Mr. Vargas Llosa documents a twisted life, such as when Che shot a comrade and made the following entry in his diary: "I ended the problem with a .32 caliber pistol, in the right side of his brain ... His belongings were now mine." After that, Mr. Vargas Llosa says, Guevara shot "a peasant who expressed the desire to leave whenever the rebels moved on." Guevara also liked to simulate executions, as a form of torture. "At every stage of his adult life, his megalomania manifested itself in the predatory urge to take over other people's lives and property, and to abolish their free will."
Guevara was an architect of Cuba's forced labor camps, which by 1965 were transformed into concentration camps for dissidents, homosexuals, people with AIDS, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Cubans of other religious sects.
All independent thought that refused to worship the communist state was an affront to Guevara. Christians were an especially difficult lot. From the earliest days after Castro took power, Che sent hundreds of men to face firing squads at the Havana prison known as La Cabaña. His victims could be heard at dawn loudly crying "Long live Christ the King, down with communism," just before the rifle shots rang out.
Thousands of Cubans have perished in daring attempts to get off the island because they preferred the risks of flight to a life in which Christianity has been forbidden, children are the property of the state, thought is policed and spying on your neighbor is one of the few ways to earn a living. During the Mariel boat lift in 1980, witnesses told of families arriving at the pier together only to be separated by Cuban guards who enjoyed watching their misery. Weeping mothers faced the point of a gun while their distraught sons and daughters were forced to board ships. This Christmas thousands of Cuban-Americans will remember their loved ones who didn't make it out or died trying.
Defenders of Guevara can't even claim that his cruelty brought about equality. Today state policy makes it a crime for the raggedly dressed, malnourished and mostly black Cuban people to visit the beaches, museums and amply stocked stores of their own country, while well-fed tourists in fashionable cruise-wear go where they like. This amounts to de facto apartheid.
Amazingly, hope is still alive in Cuba. One reason is because although Guevara was able to kill a lot of Christians, neither he nor his successors succeeded in wiping out Christianity. The struggling Christian community, which takes seriously the religious teaching to reject fear in the face of evil, is playing a key role in the island's dissident movement.
An icon of the Christian resistance is Oscar Elias Biscet, a black physician who is serving a 25-year sentence for his peaceful activism against the regime. He has been arrested more than 26 times since he began to express his dissent; he has been beaten, tortured and locked in tiny windowless cells for days on end. Hundreds of other prisoners of conscience are in jail, under atrocious conditions; many are also devout Christians.
The Christian faith has survived Che and Fidel and decades of brainwashing. It is battered but has not been defeated. Raul Castro fears it - which is why he takes Bibles away from his unbreakable prisoners. The moral of the story seems to be that even the all-powerful regime cannot stop Christmas from coming to Cuba.
Copyright 2006 - The Wall Street Journal
Bitter leftist naysayers get their comeuppance...
Time Canada names Prime Minister Stephen Harper top Canadian newsmaker
TORONTO (CP) - Time Magazine has chosen Prime Minister Stephen Harper its 2006 Canadian Newsmaker of the Year.
Contributing editor Stephen Handelman writes that the prime minister who was "once dismissed as a doctrinaire backroom tactician with no experience in government has emerged as a warrior in power."
The magazine says Harper defied conventional wisdom about how to lead a minority government.
It says he slashed more than $1 billion worth of federal programs, reshuffled the federal bureaucracy, and reopened the wounds of the national unity debate by supporting Quebec's right to declare itself a "nation."
At the same time, Time says, he has introduced a new standard of accountability for federal politicians, stewarded Canada's first major deployment of troops to a combat theatre in five decades and, for good measure, negotiated an end to a long-simmering trade wrangle with the U.S. over softwood exports.
The magazine says, "If Harper wins the majority he craves, in the election expected sometime next year, he may yet turn out to be the most transformational leader since Trudeau."
The Canadian Newsmaker of the Year is an annual editorial special that began over 10 years ago.
The Newsmaker is defined as the person, place, group, or thing that has the most impact - for better or for worse - on the news in Canada.
Copyright 2006 - The Canadian Press
Where Alberta leads...
Lessons From Our Neighbor
By: NIELS VELDHUIS and MILAGROS PALACIOS
December 13, 2006
Governor-elect Spitzer has tagged Paul Francis, former chief financial officer of Priceline.com as his budget director. With New York's budget due on February 1, Mr. Francis will have to hit the ground running. Most importantly, the first Francis budget should send a strong message that New York's interventionist approach to economic development - tax, spend, and subsidize - is over.
To that end, he may want to examine how provinces in Western Canada have turned around their economies. That is, Western Canadian provinces have focused on creating an environment within which economic activity can flourish by implementing pro-growth economic policies such as smaller government and tax relief. The results have been stunning, as Alberta and British Columbia have become economic beacons in North America. If New Yorkers wish to achieve similar results, they should follow Western Canada's lead and implement proven policies that achieve lasting prosperity.
Perhaps the most telling sign of New York's interventionist ways is the size of government. In 2003-04, the latest year for which data are available, state and local government spending in New York accounted for 25.9% of the economy, the fourth largest government sector among the 50 states. Put differently, over one quarter of all economic activity in New York State is directed by state and local governments.
High taxes are the unavoidable consequence of large government. According to a recent report by the U.S. Tax Foundation, New York ranks among the worst tax climates in America, 47th among the 50 states.
On personal income taxes, New York ranks 38th among the states as a result of its relatively high top marginal rate and highly progressive rate structure. These high and progressive personal income taxes have repeatedly been shown to discourage work effort, entrepreneurship, and savings and investment, all of which comprise the foundation of a successful and dynamic economy.
If New Yorkers want a stronger and more robust economy, one in which there are opportunities for all those who seek them, they should closely examine recent policies implemented in Western Canada. There, among other things, the size of governments and the accordant tax bills are being reduced.
Over the past five years for which comparable data are available, Alberta and British Columbia have reduced the size of government - provincial and local spending as a share of the economy - by 8.2% and 6.3%, respectively. Comparatively, New York has increased the size of its government - state and local spending as a share of the economy - by 9.9% over the same period.
Reducing the size of government has also enabled the Western Canadian provinces to reduce taxes. Fortunately, both provinces chose tax relief that improved incentives for work, savings, investment, and entrepreneurship.
Alberta led the way in 2000 by creating Canada's only single-rate personal income tax. It now resides among the ranks of jurisdictions with competitive personal income tax regimes like those in Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania that also do not punish success and diligence through increasing marginal personal income tax rates.
British Columbia soon followed Alberta's lead by substantially reducing its personal income tax rates. In fact, Alberta and British Columbia now have the lowest top marginal rates in Canada.
The changes to personal income taxes were matched, perhaps more importantly, by critical reductions in business taxes. Both governments pursued two broad measures: reductions in corporate income tax rates and the elimination of corporate capital taxes, a uniquely Canadian tax that punishes investment and risk-taking.
Again, Alberta was the leader. It eliminated corporate capital taxes and reduced corporate income tax rates by 35% between 2000 and 2006. British Columbia eliminated its general corporate capital tax and reduced corporate income tax rates by nearly 30% between 2001 and 2006. In comparison, the tax climates in New York have become less competitive in recent years. In tax climate rankings, New York has fallen to 47th from 44th in 2002.
The economic results of these pro-growth policies have been stunning. From 2000 to 2005, annual average economic growth in Alberta and British Columbia has been 8.5% and 5.1%, respectively, outperforming America's national average of 4.9% economic growth and New York's, which was 4.4%.
Even more pronounced results are evident in the labor market. From 2000 to 2005, annual average employment growth in Alberta, which was 2.4%, and in British Columbia, which was 2%, has been significantly greater than America's national average of 0.7% and New York's 0.4%.
While part of the explanation for the strong performance in Western Canada stems from a rise in commodity prices, one cannot underestimate the influence of public policy. If economic growth is just about resources, then many of the world's poorest jurisdictions should be the wealthiest.
Our hope is that the success of Western Canada will entice New York and others to adopt policies that support economic prosperity, such as reducing the size of governments and implementing incentive-based tax relief.
Mr. Veldhuis and Ms. Palacios are economists at the Fraser Institute, an international research and educational organization based in Vancouver.
Copyright 2006 - The New York Sun
Denial of reality...
Iran students denounce Holocaust denial
By: Michael Theodoulou
December 12, 2006
In a rare act of defiance, dozens of Iranian students burnt pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and chanted "Death to the dictator" as he gave a speech at a Tehran university.
Never has the hardline leader faced such open hostility at a public event, which came as Iran opened a conference questioning whether Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews.
One student activist said that the protest was against the “shameful” Holocaust conference and the “fact that many activists have not been allowed to attend university”. The conference “has brought to our country Nazis and racists from around the world”, he added.
Mr Ahmadinejad responded by saying: “Everyone should know that Ahmadinejad is prepared to be burnt in the path of true freedom, independence and justice”, according to an Iranian students’ news agency. He accused the protesters of being “Americanised”.
The protest during a speech at Amir Tabir University unrelated to the Holocaust meeting will be embarrassing for Mr Ahmadinejad.
He has portrayed Iran as a champion of free speech in hosting the two-day Holocaust conference, which has attracted retired Adelaide high school teacher Frederick Toben and other revisionist historians who have served jail sentences in Europe, and David Duke, an American former Ku Klux Klan leader.
Almost 70 researchers from France to Indonesia arrived at the plush conference centre in an affluent north Tehran suburb. The centre’s walls were festooned with posters claiming to debunk “myths” of the Holocaust, disputing whether smoke ever rose from the chimneys at Auschwitz and denouncing the film Schindler’s List, which tells of the Nazi industrialist who rescued more than 1000 Jews.
But the conference has embarrassed many ordinary Iranians who are aware of the damage such events are inflicting on their country’s image.
Some Iranians point out that they have much less freedom to debate pressing issues such as Iran’s nuclear program, which has brought the threat of international sanctions. The conference, which has provoked international condemnation, was inspired by Mr Ahmadinejad himself, who has described the Holocaust as a myth invented to justify the occupation of Palestinian land. He has also declared that Israel should be “wiped off the map”.
The conference has dismayed Iran’s 25,000-strong Jewish community. Moris Motamed, Iran’s sole Jewish MP, said that denying the Holocaust was “a huge insult”.
Those at the conference included American and European rabbis from the fringe ultra-Orthodox group Neturei Karta, whose theology holds that there should be no Jewish state until the Messiah arrives.
Ahron Cohen, a British rabbi, said: “We certainly say there was a Holocaust. But in no way can it be used as a justification for unjust acts against the Palestinians.” Welcoming the participants, Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, declared: “The aim of this conference is not to deny or confirm the Holocaust. Its main aim is to create an opportunity for thinkers who cannot express their views freely in Europe about the Holocaust.”
Georges Thiel, a French writer who has been convicted in France, where Holocaust denial is illegal, said that the Holocaust was “an enormous lie”: “Jewish people have been persecuted, that is true, they have been deported, but there was no machinery of murder in any camp - no gas chambers.”
Dr Toben, who has served a prison sentence in his native Germany for inciting racial hatred, said: “Minds are being switched off to the Holocaust dogma as it is being sold as a historical fact and yet we are not able to question it. This is mental rape.”
He brought a model of the Treblinka extermination camp which, he said, he would demonstrate that the gas chambers did not exist.
From: The Toronto Star
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is guilty of inciting genocide, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told a packed multi-faith rally at a Toronto synagogue last night.
During the rally held to protest the recent Holocaust-denial conference in Iran, the keynote speaker told a crowd of about 3,000 people in the Beth Tzedec Synagogue that he would draft an indictment of Ahmadinejad with Canadian human rights champion Irwin Cotler and bring it forward to the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
"We will not sit idly by," he said during an impassioned address to a crowd that included politicians of all stripes.
Like other speakers, he pulled no punches about the two-day conference that was described by all speakers as part of Iran's anti-Israel campaign.
But the well-known American lawyer and author stressed that while there are "kooky" theorists who believe the world is flat and Elvis is alive, those who deny the Holocaust are dangerous since their real agenda is to destroy Israel's future.
One of the biggest rounds of applause - one that brought people to their feet - followed remarks made by Peter Van Loan, the federal government's intergovernmental affairs minister.
He spoke about growing up in York Mills and how as a young Estonian-Canadian he learned to share with his Jewish friends stories about the atrocities suffered at the hands of both Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
That is what made him so proud of his government for standing "firmly with Israel's right to defend itself" last summer during the Hezbollah incursions from Lebanon last summer.
He also told the crowd he was stunned when he heard some question Israel, something that has affirmed his belief that "together we're resolved to never forget."
Author Linda Frum Sokolowski, who was the host, referred to the Iranian conference as one attended by "cranks, oddballs and neo-Nazis," and urged members of the audience to fill in postcards addressed to Ottawa to "not let things drift."
While the roster of "losers and weirdos" who attended make it tempting to laugh, she said all Canadians must know to take the threat seriously. And like other speakers, who included Holocaust survivors, she warned that Holocaust-deniers are "not about the past but about the future."
The evening fell on the seventh night of Chanukah, the holiday which celebrates freedom from religious persecution.
Father Raymond J. De Souza, a Roman Catholic priest from Kingston, told the congregation there can be no doubt "that the Holocaust took place ... it's an historical fact."
Then a video was shown of the U.S. Army discovering the depraved conditions of Nazi concentration camps.
Copyright 2006 - The Toronto Star
Chicken Little and the Climate Change crowd...
Not only has the debate over climate long since departed from scientific discourse, it has gone through a succession of stages, discussed here previously in some detail. The latest transformation appears to be from a mere consensus which may not be challenged, to more of a faith which may not be doubted.
Forget the intuitive discomfort one feels over a consensus that is so sure, so ironclad that it must stifle any debate. It's more than that now. Not only may the quite extreme opinions of someone like say, Al Gore, remained unchallenged – you can't make fun of him either.
Not make fun of Al Gore? Come on, next thing Tim Robbins and France will be off limits too. And it's not as if they're offering to trade Dubya one-for-one. Nooooo. Al has apparently canonized himself through his climate activism and anyone who even dares snicker at the great man behind his back will promptly be "outed" by the media. Enter Stockwell Day. Seems the minister used the record-cold November temperatures out West to make a joke at big-Al's expense. Do that and it's in the Globe and Mail as fast as you can say molecular insulation coefficient.
I made the mistake of asking out loud today what the next stage would be... the Spanish Inquisition? Well, no sooner do I get home but there it is – a copy of the Jesuit weekly America (Please! A gift subscription from a well-meaning relative). And the cover story is – a full-length expose on the climate crisis (sorry, subscribers only). So serious is the magazine about the subject that they've interviewed a journalist about it. OK, a former New York Times reporter who's now written a book called "Field Notes from a Catastrophe." Wonder which side she comes down on?
And Cardinal Fang isn't the only churchman who'll be bearing the soft cushions. The media have made much of the fact that some evangelicals are now taking up the climate catastrophe standard. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed – Al Gore and greenvangelicals. Maybe that explains the increasing "Church Lady" tone from the catastrophist corner. Sorry, I forgot. This is not a laughing matter.
From: The Globe and Mail
This Day gets cold
By: BILL CURRY
Ottawa - Stockwell Day's folksy musings about the weather in his local newspaper were spread across Parliament Hill yesterday by Liberals claiming the cabinet minister had revealed his skepticism about climate change.
Writing in his weekly column in the Penticton Western News, the Public Safety Minister said the recent B.C. cold snap didn't fit with Al Gore's dire predictions. "Maybe all my constituents living high up on the West Bench, or Lakeview Heights, or the hills of Logan Lake will soon be sitting on lakeside property as one of the many benefits of global warming," he wrote.
"All I know is last weekend when I got home from Ottawa there was more snow in my driveway than we usually get in a year. And I was begging for Big Al's Glacial Melt when the mercury hit -24 ... Rather than feeling badly for yourself, picture this. For every hour it's that cold, millions of those nasty ravenous pine beetles who are destroying our forests are having their pesky little heads and jaws frozen, literally to death."
Even though Mr. Day's spokesman said the minister believes in climate change and that the column was clearly meant to be humorous, Liberals were fuming.
"Mr. Day clearly does not understand the science of climate change," Liberal MP David McGuinty said. "It's very concerning. He's a front-bench member of this government's cabinet."
Copyright 2006 - The Globe and Mail
Go ahead Layton and Duceppe, tell those girls who are learning to read that they are not worth the effort. You leftist pussy assholes.
By: ALEXANDER PANETTA, Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The opposition parties are threatening to pull the plug on the Tory minority government over its handling of the mission in Afghanistan.
Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe warned Monday he might table a non-confidence motion if the mandate of Canadian soldiers in the war-torn country doesn't change.
And the other opposition parties suggested they might join a Bloc effort to that effect in the new year.
Mr. Duceppe said the mission needs to be "rapidly and profoundly" retooled and must focus more heavily on reconstruction instead of fighting.
He said the government is failing to secure troop commitments from other NATO countries and the current mission risks becoming a results-free sacrifice of human life.
"We will not go along with an obtuse government that digs in its heels," Mr. Duceppe told a Quebec City audience.
"Because if nothing changes, we are certainly going to get stuck."
"If (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper refuses to make these changes, we won't hesitate to withdraw our support and, if need be, to defeat his government on the Afghan question."
Mr. Duceppe described Afghanistan as one of three possible reasons to defeat the government. The others are climate change and the alleged federal-provincial fiscal imbalance.
Such a motion on Afghanistan would pose a particular dilemma for the Liberals, who signed up Canada for the mission in the first place while they were in power.
The party is now divided on the issue but its new leader has been critical of the current mission.
"We'll wait to see (the motion) before making a choice," Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said.
"Our mission in Afghanistan has enormous problems. One of the main reasons for that is half the Afghan economy is involved in an illicit activity (the poppy trade) that is filling warlords' coffers."
Mr. Dion is calling for a so-called Marshall plan and for alternate means to compensate farmers who grow poppies. However, he has been vague so far about what he would propose.
As for the Tories, Mr. Dion said they have only themselves to blame if they appear fragile.
"This government is vulnerable — thanks to its very right-wing policies, which are very far from what Canadians want," Mr. Dion said.
"I know this government can fall."
Forty-four Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed since the Afghan mission began in 2002, the majority of those casualties this year.
But the Canadian who recently led the NATO mission for nine months says much was accomplished under his watch.
Brig.-Gen. David Fraser says 146 kilometres of new roads and more than 100,000 metres of irrigation canals were finished. Another 1,000 wells were dug in Kandahar province by Nov. 1, when the Dutch assumed control of the mission.
"We're making important progress in Afghanistan," said International Co-operation Minister Josee Verner.
"We will not abandon the Afghan people who are looking to build a democracy ... and looking to take control of their future..."
"I'm thinking especially about the women. It's out of the question for me to return them to the darkness. We know what sort of horrific regime they lived under."
"Little girls go to school today - which they could not do when the mission started in 2001."
Among Canadian federal parties, only the NDP has formally called for a troop withdrawal and it appears likely to support any motion of the sort Mr. Duceppe is proposing.
"We have never had confidence in Mr. Harper's approach to this foreign policy matter," NDP Leader Jack Layton said.
"We have said so and we have voted accordingly and it would not be a surprise to Canadians to have us continue on that path. We believe that change is needed here."
Mr. Duceppe denied that his hardening of opinion against the mission is a matter of political convenience.
Quebeckers have been more skeptical than other Canadians about the mission, surveys say, and opposition in the province may deepen when 2,000 soldiers from Quebec are deployed to Afghanistan next summer.
But Mr. Duceppe said he has been voicing the same objections for months. "I make absolutely no distinction between someone from Petawawa (base in Ontario) and someone from Valcartier (in Quebec)."
Copyright 2006 - The Canadian Press
Pat on the back for our government employees...
From the Canadian Press
WINNIPEG - You'd expect Santa's workshop to be one of the happiest places on earth.
But among the thousands of letters asking Santa for favourite toys, some of the missives tucked away on the third floor of the Canada Post office in Winnipeg can break your heart.
Head elf Clare Mills, a letter carrier during the rest of the year, helps answer the 60,000 letters that are received each year.
He says many come with personal information, pictures carefully cut out of magazines, requests for baby sisters or wobbly drawings of reindeer.
"Dear Santa," starts one letter Mr. Mills recently opened. "Hi! I'm nine years old. I have two brothers. And my mom. My dad is far away. He's in heaven, he has been there since March last year ... I have been taking care of my mom and I have been a good boy. We are going to leave you some goodies! How are your reindeer? How are you? Thanks, Santa. P.S. If I leave out a present for my daddy, will you take it to him in your sleigh? If you can't, that's O.K. I love you, Santa, and your reindeer!"
Another child wrote: "I want a family again. I want the family to be together, like with my dad and a new house."
While Mr. Mills says there are two standard letters used to answer most children's requests, some he handles personally.
Like the letter written in a shaky handwriting that pleaded: "I would like a new friend."
Mr. Mills says if the topic of the letter is too daunting, he can call on help from Canada Post's Employee Assistance Program. If the situation appears dire, an agency might be contacted to do an intervention.
There are even standardized letters for children reporting sexual or physical abuse, those who are severely ill, those who say they want to end their lives, and even for grandparents who are concerned because their grandchildren are divided between warring parents.
"At least they've got it out," says Mr. Mills of the difficult letters. "Santa can't promise to fix anything but he can offer love and encouragement. Sometimes that's all a little heart needs."
Copyright 2006 - The Canadian Press
Carleton University: Attacking freedom in the name of "diversity?"
For further information check out:
From: The National Post
Friday, December 08, 2006
The Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) has decided that pro-life groups on campus are not entitled to student-club status, will not receive student-union funding, nor be able to use CUSA-administered meeting rooms. The decision this week follows a similar decision this semester to deny club status to pro-life clubs at UBC Okanagan and Capilano College in Vancouver. That three campuses would be so infected by the totalitarian impulse is not shocking, but nevertheless appalling.
Student governments and student activists (often indistinguishable) do not usually deserve the scrutiny of the national press, on the sensible grounds that imprudent decisions made by novice politicians in the hothouse campus environment are best left ignored. Moreover, as is well known, student governments are usually comprised of a rather small and often radical segment of the student body, the majority of which never bother to vote in campus elections, and pay no attention to what their alleged representatives are doing. Don't blame Carleton students for their government.
That said, CUSA's action is Orwellian, mean-spirited, and more than a little weird.
CUSA's policy is aimed at what it calls the "anti-choice" agenda. Their anti-anti-choice solution is to do what they can to penalize students who argue for a different choice. The new policy at least clarifies that CUSA is not "pro-choice" at all, but flat-out pro-abortion. In CUSA's conception, choice means denying students the choice of forming clubs to reflect their interests. It is straight out of Orwell's 1984.
Most students on campus today weren't born in 1984. They, in fact, are too young even to remember the Supreme Court of Canada's 1988 Morgentaler decision - which did not rule abortion a Charter right, but only struck down the old law on procedural inequities - let alone the abortion debates of the 1960s and 1970s. So one wonders why this should be an issue in 2006. Doesn't everyone know that a tax-funded abortion for any reason at any time is an essential part of our Canadian identity? It certainly is distinctively Canadian - we are the only country in the world with that policy.
Perhaps it is because the generation on campus today is more inclined to question the extreme abortion license. Canadian data are hard to come by on this question, but the longitudinal surveys of American students show that today's students are more, not less, pro-life than their parents.
At Queen's University, for instance, the campus pro-life club was re-established recently after many years of inactivity. The issue arose at Carleton when a new club - Carleton Lifeline - held a debate on campus and increased its profile. Anecdotally, it appears that pro-life students are more confident of taking part in campus life today.
That makes CUSA's decision, frankly, mean-spirited. To the extent that pro-life students want to organize themselves, it is mark of civic engagement, a willingness to question campus orthodoxies, and of no little courage, given the hostile environment on campus. A vibrant campus should welcome such students. To set them aside for special, punitive treatment fails even the basic test of courtesy, to say nothing of fairness.
Moreover, the CUSA policy is oddly pointless. If the campus is as enthusiastically pro-abortion as CUSA claims, what added advantage is to be gained from this policy, at a serious cost in terms of the university's reputation as a place of debate and free speech?
On campus it is an open secret that diversity usually means everyone sharing the same opinion. Just yesterday on the Queen's Website, for instance, the media office offered five professors available for comment on the issue of same-sex marriage. All five were in favour.
That's not a surprise. The campus is the natural home of the intellectual class, long ago described by critic Harold Rosenberg as the "herd of independent minds." The weird thing about CUSA's decision is that students would want to advertise that, as if they aspired to join the herd soon. If so, they can rest assured. They already belong.
© National Post 2006
December 28, 2006
Tribute to Ms. Kirkpatrick...
From: Yahoo News
Jeane Kirkpatrick, ex-ambassador, dies
By: MERRILL HARTSON, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, an unabashed apostle of Reagan era conservatism and the first woman U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has died.
The death of the 80-year-old Kirkpatrick, who began her public life as a Hubert Humphrey Democrat, was announced Friday at the senior staff meeting of the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
Spokesman Richard Grenell said that Ambassador John Bolton asked for a moment of silence. An announcement of her death also was posted on the Web site of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-oriented think tank here where she was a senior fellow.
Kirkpatrick's assistant, Andrea Harrington, said that she died in her sleep at home in Bethesda, MD late Thursday. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Kirkpatrick's health had been in decline recently, Harrington said, adding that she was "basically confined to her house," going to work about once a week "and then less and less."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn, said that Kirkpatrick, who had a reputation as a blunt and acerbic advocate, "stood up for the interests of America while at the U.N., lent a powerful moral voice to the Reagan foreign policy and has been a source of wise counsel to our nation since leaving the government two decades ago. She will be greatly missed."
Karlyn H. Bowman, a colleague of Kirkpatrick's at AEI, called her "always insightful. Always interesting. Very thoughtful about modern American politics and foreign policy. A wonderful colleague."
Bowman also said that Kirkpatrick, who had been elevated to the U.N. post by President Reagan in 1981, had "served with great distinction" at the U.N. "She was a great patriot, a champion of freedom and we will certainly miss her at AEI and the country."
Kirkpatrick was known as a blunt and sometimes acerbic advocate for her causes. She remained involved in public issues even though she'd left government service two decades ago. She joined seven other former U.N. ambassadors in 2005 in writing a letter to Congress telling lawmakers that their plan to withhold dues to force reform at the world body was misguided and would "create resentment, build animosity and actually strengthen opponents of reform."
Bill Bennett, a former secretary of education under Reagan, the nation's drug czar under the first President Bush and a leading conservative opinion-maker, called her "very forceful, very strong, a daughter of Oklahoma, great sense of humor. She held her own."
Bennett said the Iraq Study Group so prominently in the news "would have been better with Jeane Kirkpatrick on it ... She had no patience with tyrannies, said they had to be confronted, you couldn't deal with tyrannies, that there were some people you could work with - these people you couldn't."
Kirkpatrick once referred to herself as a "lifelong Democrat."
She actually switched to the GOP in early 1985, four years after Reagan sent her to New York for the U.N. job. She took with her a reputation as a hard-liner on foreign policy. Because of this, she often was a lightning rod for the opposition. In some respects, she was a controversial figure like Bolton, who recently decided to resign when it became clear the Senate would not approve him for the job on a full-time basis.
Kirkpatrick considered seeking the Republican presidential nomination that went to George H. W. Bush in 1988. She stopped that process short, however, retreating to the position that she would accept the No. 2 slot if asked. She had played a leading role at the party's convention four years earlier - at a time when she was still a Democrat.
Associated Press Writers Edith M. Lederer and Barry Schweid contributed to this story.
From: The Weekly Standard
A True American Hero Jeane Kirkpatrick, 1926-2006.
By: Norman Podhoretz
12/18/2006, Volume 012, Issue 14
When I first met Jeane Kirkpatrick in 1972, she was an academic political scientist mainly interested in domestic politics. She was also a Democrat and a close associate of Hubert Humphrey who, both as a senator and as Lyndon Johnson's vice president, had been identified with the tradition of Cold War liberalism running from Truman to Kennedy and then enthusiastically embraced by President Johnson himself. But about ten years later, in 1980, she came out in support of Ronald Reagan against Jimmy Carter, and even went on to serve as one of Reagan's advisers during the campaign.
Soon thereafter, and thanks largely to an article entitled "Dictatorships and Double Standards" that she had written for Commentary in November 1979, Reagan appointed her his ambassador to the United Nations. There, following in the footsteps of Daniel Patrick Moynihan (another Democrat sent to the U.N. by a Republican president), she simultaneously scandalized and electrified the world by going on the offensive against the anti-Americanism which, then as now, was the default position in the malodorous sinkhole that the U.N. had become. Unlike Moynihan, however, who remained a Democrat, she finally joined the side she was on, becoming in due course a registered Republican. Yet even before she had formally switched parties, she was chosen to speak at the Republican National Convention in 1984, where she stole the show by denouncing the "San Francisco Democrats" - their convention that year had been in San Francisco - who "always blame America first."
She was, in other words, a neoconservative. And it may be worth noting in the context of all the nonsense that has been written in recent years about neoconservatism - some of it rooted in ignorance, some of it in malice, and most of it in both - that Jeane was not Jewish and that she had never been either a Straussian or a Trotskyite. What drove her out of the Democratic party was precisely the "blame-America-first" syndrome - the sour attitude toward America, and especially the barely disguised hostility to American military power - that had come to pervade Democratic attitudes in the late 1960s and that had persisted into the Carter administration. And what turned her from a devoted supporter of Hubert Humphrey into an even more devoted supporter of Ronald Reagan was Reagan's serene belief in America as a wondrous "city upon a hill" and his correlative determination to hasten the day when the "evil empire" would wind up on that very ash heap of history to which the Communists had always so confidently consigned us.
Jeane Kirkpatrick, then, was a veteran of World War III (or what is more generally known as the Cold War), and I would say of her what the English used to say of those veterans of World War II who had done important and interesting work and had come through unscathed - that she, like they, had had "a good war." And like them, too, she never really found anything afterward that engaged her intellectual energies and her political passions as fully as her own "good war" had done. Back in "civilian" life after the war had been won, she resumed her academic career, she served on many boards, and as a famous and esteemed public figure, she continued to write and to speak out whenever the spirit moved her (as, for example, in a prescient piece, also written for Commentary, describing "How the PLO Was Legitimized").
But it was never the same, especially after the death of her husband in 1995. Evron Kirkpatrick, longtime executive director of the American Political Science Association, had been Jeane's mentor, and throughout the forty years of their marriage he continued to be - to invert an old-fashioned term that seems singularly appropriate here - her helpmeet in all things. His death was an immeasurable loss to her - greater, I suspect, than anyone knew or could tell, thanks to the deep reserve that marked both her character and her personality.
Nor did the outbreak on 9/11 of what I persist in calling World War IV tempt her back into battle. She had serious reservations about the prudence of the Bush Doctrine, which she evidently saw neither as an analogue of the Truman Doctrine nor as a revival of the Reaganite spirit in foreign policy. Even so, she was clearly reluctant to join in the clamor against it, which for all practical purposes meant relegating herself to the sidelines.
Because, to my great regret, I saw very little of her in what would turn out to be the last five years of her life, I cannot say for certain that she was relieved to be out of the fray this time around, but I would guess that this was indeed the case. If so, she rested on the laurels she had earned in World War III. Having enlisted as a young woman, she went on to perform brilliant service on the ideological front, where she stood up magnificently for this country at a time when it was under a relentlessly vicious assault at home no less than abroad. It was as a hero of that war that she made her mark, and it is as a true American hero that she will be remembered.
She was also, not so incidentally, a great cook and a most loving friend.
Norman Podhoretz is editor-at-large of Commentary and an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Copyright 2006 - The Weekly Standard
Bashing the new guy...
EDITORIAL: DION'S FIRST MISTAKE
New Liberal leader Stephane Dion has asked for a good reason why he should give up his French citizenship. We will provide several, with one caveat.
We are not questioning Dion's loyalty to Canada because he holds dual Canadian/French citizenship, due to the fact his mother was born in France.
Dion has fought honourably for Canada against Quebec separatists. His loyalty is above reproach.
But it's not a question of loyalty. It's an issue of perception. Dion now leads the dominant party of Canadian politics. He intends to become prime minister some day and there's a good chance he will.
If he does, his dual citizenship will instantly become a huge issue. Logically, how can the prime minister of Canada also be a citizen of France?
The perception of divided loyalties will always be there. What if Canada and France disagree on a major foreign policy issue? People will ask where Dion's loyalties lie.
The only way he can end this for good is by renouncing his French citizenship.
Dion is not helping himself by reacting emotionally, revealed in his testy exchanges with reporters after his dual citizenship was first raised by Calgary Sun columnist Ezra Levant. Levant pointed out, rightly, that the Grits would go nuts if Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a dual Canadian-American citizen.
Dion told reporters to "move on" and that his refusal to give up his French citizenship was "the end of the story." He also argued there was no story, since no one was questioning his loyalty to Canada and anyone who did should keep their "opinions to themselves." Surely this former professor understands the contradiction contained in those last two statements.
Governor General Michaelle Jean rightly gave up her French citizenship for reasons of perception.
Last summer, there was a huge controversy about dual Canadian-Lebanaese citizens who live permanently in Lebanon while expecting Canada to evacuate them for free in the event of a regional war.
Yesterday, the C.D. Howe Institute suggested charging all non- resident citizens a special fee when renewing passports to cover potential costs.
How will Dion ever escape the perception of bias in debating and deciding such issues?
He can't. Which is why he should renounce his French citizenship now.
Copyright 2006 - The Toronto Sun
From: The Economist print edition
FOR more than a century, every elected leader of the Liberal Party has eventually gone on to lead Canada. So it was not too much of a stretch for Stéphane Dion, the surprise winner of a fiercely contested Liberal leadership convention, to be hailed as "the next prime minister." But as Mr. Dion, a grey-haired and bespectacled former academic of stern intellect and zero charisma, thanked the 5,000 delegates in French and stilted English, many in the crowd were already wondering if the accolade was plausible.
The long list of shortcomings cited by his detractors starts with Mr. Dion's supposed unpopularity in his native Quebec. He was drafted into the federal cabinet in 1996 after the wife of the prime minister at the time, Jean Chrétien, saw him on television defending federalism and commended him to her husband. As minister for inter-governmental affairs, he drafted the Clarity Act, which sets stiff conditions for any province to secede from Canada and is hated by Quebec separatists.
Mr. Dion was later environment minister, a subject about which he is passionate but on which the Liberal record in government was poor. Being a Quebecker is said to be another handicap, especially one who stumbles when speaking in English. Two long-serving recent Liberal prime ministers, Mr. Chrétien (1993-2003) and Pierre Trudeau (in office for most of the period from 1968 to 1984), hailed from the province. Canadians in the booming west, where the Liberals hold only 13 of 92 seats, grew tired of Quebec's political ascendancy, especially when the party machine in the province was embroiled in a corruption scandal under Mr. Chrétien. An investigative commission laid no blame against Mr. Dion for the scandal, but he may still be tainted by association.
All that is to underestimate Mr. Dion, as his rivals for the party leadership did. He arrived at the convention as a dark horse. The frontrunners were Michael Ignatieff, a writer and journalist, and Bob Rae, who was once the premier of Ontario when a member of the leftist New Democratic Party. Mr. Ignatieff, in particular, had a slick machine, which doled out sandwiches and bottled water bearing the Iggy logo and had managers in headsets manoeuvring hordes of supporters into place for supposedly spontaneous demonstrations.
In contrast, Mr. Dion's campaign looked homespun, consisting mainly of green T-shirts and placards. But to many delegates, Mr. Ignatieff, a neophyte politician who lived abroad for 30 years, came across as just as much of a carpetbagger as Mr. Rae. Mr. Dion profited, too, from the antipathy between their respective supporters. But he also laid out the most detailed platform and emphasised his cabinet experience, which none of his rivals could match.
Mr. Dion will not have much time in which to unite the party behind him. Since the Conservative government lacks a majority in Parliament, a general election could happen at any time. Stephen Harper, the prime minister, is thought to favour calling an election in the spring, after introducing a budget that will serve as a campaign platform.
A poll this week by the Strategic Counsel gave the Liberals 37% support, compared with 31% for the Conservatives. That may merely reflect a post-convention bounce. But 62% of respondents in Quebec said Mr. Dion was a good choice for Liberal leader, with only 29% saying he was not. Opposition to the new leader in Quebec has been overstated, says Don Johnston, a minister under Trudeau and former head of the OECD. "His critics don't even bother checking the facts."
Similarly, Mr. Dion's environmentalism looks like an asset rather than a liability. In some opinion polls, the environment now tops health care as the top public concern. Mr. Harper's new clean-air legislation, which was debated in the House of Commons this week, has been widely criticised as too weak.
One criticism is harder for Mr. Dion to rebut. He is indeed bookish and lacking in charisma. But so is Mr. Harper, and that did not stop him from turfing the Liberals out of office in last January's election. Mr. Dion, said one commentator, is Mr. Harper with a French accent. In an era when politics has degenerated into tawdry glitz, Canada seems to have bucked the trend. The next election campaign promises to be a real thumb-sucker.
Copyright 2006 - The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
Carleton University supports censorship...
Date: December 4, 2006
For immediate release
CAMPUS PC'S CONDEMN CUSA'S ATTEMPTS TO CURTAIL FREE SPEECH:
The Ontario Campus PCs are outraged that the Carleton University Students Association (CUSA) is attempting to curb free speech on campuses. CUSA seeks to control diversity of thought through a recent motion that states "no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding be allocated for anti-choice purposes."
"I'm pro-choice, but I also believe in the rights to freedom of speech and association," said Campus PC President Brendan McLaughlin. "To ban something as simple as a group setting up a table with pro-life literature is a drastic measure."
Pro-life groups have peacefully existed at Carleton and other campuses for years. Adopting the CUSA motion on December 5 would not only change that, it would also set a precedent of suppressing free speech.
"Universities are supposed to encourage debate, and CUSA should uphold that ideal," said Campus PC Policy Director and Carleton Conservative Derek Fildebrandt. "CUSA seeks to deny some of its members equal treatment because it fears a debate on a controversial topic."
The Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) is defending itself from allegations by several student groups that claim a motion to restrict funding and student space for anti-choice groups is a freedom of speech violation.
Second-year student Garnett Genuis organized a petition that opposes the denial of club status to groups who disagree with CUSA’s political stance, and he claims the motion is a violation of free speech. The Womyn’s Centre is also circulating a petition to “support a woman’s right to choose” and support the CUSA motion.
“This is a freedom of speech issue,” said Genuis. “Don’t believe what CUSA tells you when they say people can have the same opportunity to express their opinion even if they don’t have club status.”
Shawn Menard, CUSA president, said the motion does not violate the rights of students.
“What people don’t understand is that this has nothing to do with the right to free speech,” Menard said. “Every individual has the right to free speech in our spaces, and that’s under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
Menard said CUSA is well within its rights to put forward the motion.
Genuis said many students are confused about CUSA’s role, and he said he hopes students will demand reform when they realize that CUSA is not a student government.
A document distributed to CUSA councillors by Katy McIntyre, CUSA vice-president (student services), states that CUSA is a political organization and “not a student government.”
"Hopefully this will inspire Carleton students to take a stance and say we do need a student government on campus to represent our interests and not just a political lobby group," Genuis said. “Given the right amount of pressure, there might be the potential to shift that mandate back to where it should be,” he said.
“We have the ability as a political organization mandated by students to come out and take political positions on things,” said Menard.
Menard said there is some confusion surrounding the motion, which would only affect groups whose primary goal is to criminalize abortion, and not religious groups.
Sarah Fletcher, president of Carleton University Lifeline, said her group’s goal is not to re-criminalize abortion.
“Nowhere in our mandate does it say that we wish to make abortion illegal or to force our views on any woman and tell them they cannot have an abortion,” Fletcher said.
She said that, to her knowledge, there are no pro-life groups on campus whose mandate is to make abortion illegal.
Menard said the motion is currently being amended for clarity, and he said with these changes he is confident the motion will pass.
Fletcher said that if the motion passes, legal action against CUSA might be a last resort possibility. But Menard said he has spoken with CUSA’s lawyer and that their motion has legal legs to stand on.
The motion was put forward by McIntyre on behalf of the Womyn’s Centre at a Nov. 21 CUSA council meeting. Council will debate and vote on the motion Dec. 5.
The university respects the “separate decision-making process of student organizations,” according to a statement from university administration, but at the same time Carleton as an institution “is not bound by the expressed views of the Carleton University Students’ Association or other student organizations.”
Conservatism will need to stay on the cutting edge of progress...
Could Libertarians Join With Liberals?
By: Sebastian Mallaby
Republicans are good at reinvention. They have appealed to voters' dark side (Nixon's Southern strategy) as well as to their sunny side (Reagan's "Morning in America"). They have skipped from anti-government populism (Newt Gingrich and the leave-us-alone coalition) to big-government machine politics (the alliance with corporate lobbyists known as the K Street Project). Through all these transformations, the GOP has sustained its big-tent coalition. The question in the wake of its election thumpin' is whether the tent will split.
You can see this possibility in "Liberaltarians," an essay in the New Republic by Brink Lindsey, the director of research at the libertarian Cato Institute. Lindsey is not merely joining the large crowd of disenchanted conservatives who believe that the Republican Party has betrayed its principles - spraying money at farmers, building bridges to nowhere and presiding over the fastest ramp-up in federal spending since Lyndon Johnson. Rather, Lindsey is taking a step further, arguing that libertarians should ditch the Republican Party in favor of the Democrats.
Why react to the temporary corruption of a party by abandoning it outright? Lindsey's answer is that Republicans are not merely failing to live up to their principles; the principles have altered. The party has been virtually cleaned out of the Northeast; it has suffered setbacks in the Mountain West; it increasingly reflects the values of its stronghold in the South. As a result, it has lost its libertarian tinge and grown more religious and traditionalist.
There has always been a tension between Republican libertarians, who believe that individual choices should be unconstrained by received wisdom, and Republican traditionalists, who believe pretty much the opposite. In their history of the conservative movement, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge recall that Barry Goldwater believed Jerry Falwell deserved "a swift kick in the ass;" and Goldwater's wife, Peggy, helped to found Planned Parenthood in Arizona. But for a long time the two wings of the party could paper over these differences. Christian conservatives and libertarians agreed that misconceived government programs were harming traditional values. Schools forced sex education on children. The tax system and the welfare system penalized marriage.
Conservatives have grown less able to bridge these divisions because of their success. Welfare has been reformed, and the tax system now supports families with the expanded child tax credit. Having ticked off the first things on their to-do list, Christian conservatives now press for affirmative state action on behalf of traditional values: amendments to the constitution to bar gay marriage, government efforts to teach abstinence, federal payments to faith-based groups. All these policies appall libertarians.
It's not just the values of the South that pose a problem. It is the region's appetite for government. The most solidly red states in the nation tend also to be the most reliant on federal handouts - farm subsidies, water projects and sundry other earmarks. It's hard to be the party of small government when you represent the communities that benefit most from big government. George W. Bush tried to straddle this divide by pleasing libertarians with tax cuts and traditionalists with spending. The result is a huge deficit.
Would libertarians be more comfortable in the company of Democrats? On moral questions - abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research - clearly they would. But on economic issues, the answer is less obvious. For just as Republicans want government to restore traditional values, so Democrats want government to bring back the economic order that existed before globalization. As Lindsey puts it in his New Republic essay, Republicans want to go home to the United States of the 1950s while Democrats want to work there.
If Democrats can get over this nostalgia, there's a chance that liberaltarianism could work. For the time has passed when libertarians could seriously hope to cut government: Much of what could be deregulated has been, and the combination of demographics, defense costs and medical inflation leaves no scope for tax cuts. As Lindsey himself says, the ambition of realistic libertarians is not to shrink government but to contain it: to cut senseless spending such as the farm program and oil subsidies to make room for the inevitable expansion in areas such as health.
As it happens, this also describes a plausible agenda for the Democratic Party - at least if it can shed the back-to-the-1950s yearnings of its reactionary left. Precisely because Democrats want government to provide social insurance against the volatility of globalization, the party has an interest in cutting unneeded federal spending. Precisely because entitlements are expanding so expensively, the party needs cost-saving ideas from anyone who has them - including libertarians.
The era of big government is far from over, and liberals and libertarians gain nothing from fighting over its inevitable growth. But precisely because government is on a trajectory of unsustainable expansion, liberals and libertarians have a common interest in reinventing it.
E-mail the author at: email@example.com
Copyright 2006 - The Washington Post
Dion: The best out of a sorry bunch...
Question of loyalty: New Liberal leader Dion deserves citizenship scrutiny
By: EZRA LEVANT
Stephane Dion is the new leader of the Liberal Party. And he is a citizen of France.
Imagine the shrieks from the media if the Conservatives were to elect a leader who is a dual citizen of the U.S. He would be called a U.S. poodle at best or a spy at worst. Every time he opined on a subject, it would be scrutinized through the lens of Canada-U.S. relations. Everything from military spending to foreign treaties like Kyoto would be looked at through the question: Was the Prime Minister of Canada truly pursuing Canadian interests, or was his loyalty to his other homeland at play?
Even Michael Ignatieff, the second-place finisher in the Liberal contest, never took U.S. citizenship despite 30 years living there. It was chutzpah that Ignatieff, a de facto American, returned to Canada to lead us. But at least he had the sense to remain a Canadian, at least legally.
So what is Dion's excuse? The man wasn't born abroad, as was our other leading dual-citizen, Michaelle Jean. And at least Jean had the taste to renounce her French citizenship (after public outcry) upon acceding to the post of governor general. But Dion was born right here in Canada. Yet he is a dual citizen of France.
When it comes to making decisions about the war on terror, and Canada's role in Afghanistan, will Dion be unduly influenced by France, a country that has taken up the role of lawyer and arms dealer for every terrorist state in the world, even defending Saddam Hussein until the eve of his overthrow?
Perhaps, in Quebec, French citizenship is a sign of cosmopolitan worldliness. More likely, it is a symbol of an inferiority complex, where French colonials demonstrate they are much bigger and broader-minded than mere North Americans - they are part of the mighty French empire.
Here's what Dion said about the matter, on a rare occasion that he was pressed: "Multiple identities should be seen as an asset, not a threat," he said.
"There is nothing wrong with multiple identities. The hearts of people are big enough to accept different identities. Canadian citizenship will give me my rights. Identity is the way I feel about the country." No talk of loyalty or obligation, no talk of duties.
Because Dion was never considered a serious challenger, his statements like this have escaped scrutiny by the media, and by the Conservatives. Now that this loyal citizen of France will be on the next ballot to lead Canada, expect many more such clangers to see the light of day.
A word about Alberta's leadership election - how dramatic to have one day that sees both a new federal opposition leader and a new premier of Alberta.
There are similarities: Ed Stelmach was seen as a compromise choice by Alberta Tories sick of the old guard represented by Jim Dinning, but wary of a dramatic choice presented by Ted Morton.
Stelmach is not a bold and charismatic man, but obviously is an organizer, moving from a distant third place to first in seven days.
If Stelmach truly is a uniter, he will give Morton a senior cabinet position and respect the policy aspirations of Morton's wing of the party. It is unthinkable that Dinning would now run as an MLA - he clearly wanted the premier's job or nothing. Look for him to be appointed to a symbolic place in the party.
What an interesting time in politics.
Copyright 2006 - The Calgary Sun